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An alternative promoter of the human plakophilin-3 gene controls the expression of the new isoform PKP3b.

Muhmer M., Ditthardt D., Jakel J., Wischmann V., Moll R., Schmidt A.

The plakophilin family (PKP1 to PKP3) is an essential component of the desmosomal adhesion complex with differentiation-dependent and partially overlapping expression and possible participation of the corresponding genes in malignant transformation. Here, we describe a new protein variant of the human PKP3 gene, namely PKP3b, which differs from the published PKP3a only at the amino-terminus by the splicing in of the newly identified exon 1b. Specific antibodies have demonstrated differential expression patterns of the two variants. Whereas PKP3a is broadly expressed among epithelial cells, PKP3b is abundant in the desmosomes of stratified epithelial cells, such as HaCaT but absent or heterogeneous in simple epithelial cells such as CaCo2 or MCF7. The differential expression of the PKP3 variants has been observed in a similar manner in selected normal human tissues and carcinomas derived thereof. Both variants are localized to the desmosomes of all cells of stratified tissues, whereas the new PKP3b is heterogeneously expressed in the colon and its tumors. Therefore, we assume that both variants are controlled by alternative promoters. Reporter gene assays have confirmed that a fragment upstream of exon 1b exhibits transcriptional activity only in HaCaT cells but not in CaCo2 cells and thus has been identified as an alternative promoter driving the expression of PKP3b. Finally, by using electromobility shift assays, we found a potential binding site in the PKP3b promoter for transcription factor C/EBP regulating keratinocyte differentiation and probably also PKP3b expression. We discuss the properties of the new variant PKP3b as a possible marker protein for the analyses of differentiation and malignant transformation.

Cell Tissue Res. 355:143-162(2014) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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